Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: February 10

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (February 3 – 7).  

budget estimate released by the Congressional Budget Office last week projects that the Pell Grant program is not anticipated to have a shortfall in FY2015. However, shortfalls are projected for FY2016 and beyond.

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 357, the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013. The bill requires public institutions of higher education to offer in-state tuition rates to veterans.

Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) announced last week that he is resigning from Congress on February 18. Rep. Andrews is a longtime member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. With current Senior Democratic Member Rep. George Miller (D-CA) retiring at the end of this year, Rep. Andrews would have been the next in line of seniority to take over the position from Rep. Miller. Later in the week, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) indicated his interest in the ranking member position of the committee.

In other leadership news for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, current chairman Rep. John Kline (R-MN) indicated that he would like to retain his position as chairman in the next Congress. Chairman Kline’s position is term limited after this congressional session, and he stated that a waiver from House leadership may be needed to remain as chairman.

The House Ways and Means Committee marked up a bill on Tuesday that would amend the Internal Revenue Code to repeal the 30-hour threshold for classification as a full-time employee as part of the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with 40 hours. The bill, H.R. 2575, the “Save American Workers Act of 2013” passed the committee by a vote of 23-14.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a full committee hearing on Tuesday, February 11 on the nominations of Christopher P. Lu to be the Deputy Secretary of Labor, and Portia Y. Wu to be the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training.

Senate education committee Chairman Harkin (D-IA) indicated at a committee hearing that he would like to markup an early childhood education bill before the Memorial Day recess. He also said that another hearing on the issue could take place in April.

Politico reported that Chairman Harkin will release a bill (the Keeping All Students Safe Act) this week to address seclusion and restraint policies in schools.

As part of the ConnectED initiative, President Obama announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will provide $2 billion and several private companies will commit $750 million toward the federal E-Rate program, to provide high-speed Internet access to schools.

The GAO released a report on student loan interest rates, saying that it is difficult to establish a long-term interest rate structure that would balance government costs and revenues.

The National Center for Education Statistics held a Technical Symposium on a Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) on Thursday. The Department of Education stressed that the symposium was just one part of a long process to get input on how to develop the PIRS system, and that they are still accepting comments and input from stakeholders.

The Department of Education released a list of negotiators for the upcoming Negotiated Rulemaking Program Integrity and Improvement sessions in February, March and April.

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